Episode 1

In 1935, I was a barefoot North Dakota farm boy, one of ten kids.  We had no such thing as electricity on the farm.  The buildings in town, like the school house and some of the more wealthy residences, had electricity.  One of my school chums lived in one of the expensive houses.  We were playing in the finished basement of his home and started playing “flip the switch” with a couple of 3-way switches.  I was totally fascinated by the switch; “How could this thing possibly work?”


A few years later, about 1941 my Uncle Ben died and we inherited his wind charger.  We hauled it out to the farm and set it up on a knoll near the house.  To set the head and blades on the top of the tower we rigged a rope and pulley system.  It worked well except for getting it up the last three feet.  We just couldn’t seem to get the equipment up the last distance to drop the main pin into the socket.  We didn’t have any safety straps or equipment that climbers would use.  My brother yelled up at me to “Reach over and grab that sky hook.”  I nearly did so.   There was no “sky hook” and I nearly took the fast way down off the tower.  After descending, slowly, from the top of the tower I wouldn’t go up any more.


We enticed a neighbor to come over and help us out.  He put the generator head and blades on his shoulder, climbed the tower, wrapped his legs around the tower, used both arms and lifted the unit above his head and dropped it into the socket.  Nothing to it!  We had electricity in the house.


We kept the batteries in the store room.  The store room also housed the gallon jars of distilled water for the batteries, as well as gallon jars of kerosene.  We had one light in the living room so it was rather dark in the store room.  One time I went to add water to the batteries and grabbed the wrong jug.


We were back to kerosene lamps and never did get electric lights on the farm.